The star TW Hydrae, located about 150 light-years from Earth, is only about 10 million years old, and is currently in this planet-forming stage. Because TW Hydrae is relatively close and bright, and because it rotates with its pole pointed nearly directly towards the Earth, scientists can view the star's disk of material nearly face on to study what is happening.
The team reported finding convincing evidence for a reservoir of water ice in this star's disk -- with inferred quantities of water ice amounting to several thousand Earth-oceans. Moreover, they discovered from details of the ice chemistry that probably the ice comes from a mixture distributed throughout the system. The results gave convincing support to the current scenario of the origin of the Earth's oceans.
The Daily Galaxy via Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech